Are we seeing a windsurf-revolution these days? Foiling is on everyone's lips, whether it’s positive comments or not – it’s getting people talking! Is windfoiling going to succeed and convert every freerider to this new style of windsurfing? In other words, will foil windsurfing be the future of windsurfing?
A new era of windsurfing
For those of you who are old enough, remember when funboarding was introduced in the 80’s? At that time windsurfing was a family activity, easily accessible for most people, and funboarding was seen as more extreme and difficult. However, funboarding had many detractors, but the fact is that the brands that were pushing to develop funboarding, were able to make it happen. Funboading is now what we call windsurfing today.
The same thing is about to happen today with foiling. We hear quite a lot of negative comments coming from windsurfers about windfoiling, which is normal because let’s face the fact that:
People are creatures of habit and are skeptical of evolution and change…
Critics have many arguments about the foil:
You need to upgrade all your windsurf gear
It will never replace sailing at 20 knots in waves
It’s boring just to sail back and force without moving
It’s so static that you don’t train anymore.
You don’t get the exiting “tac, tac, tac” noise of your board planning on the water
You can’t windsurf in shallow waters
Potential cuts from the foil due to its sharp edges
Windfoiling will probably boost the future growth of windsurfing
I believe that windfoiling is here to stay and will gain more and more popularity in the years to come, recruiting new fans to the sport. Here are the top 7 reasons why I believe foil windsurfing is a game changer for the windsurfing sport:
1. Robby Naish is involved in windfoiling
Remember: Naish was already involved when funboarding took off and he was involved early on in the development of kiteboarding. At that the beginning, windsurfers claimed that “Naish had sold his soul to the devil” when entering the kiteboarding world.
But Naish is a visionary leader, he knew exactly what he was doing. He had the gut feeling that kiteboarding was more than just a fad and he was of course, right again.
Having Naish involved in windfoiling is the confirmation that windsurf foiling is more than a something that will fade away, but a branch of windsurfing that will be developed further and hopefully be more financiallys accessible to everybody in the future.
3. Many kiteboard brands are making their comeback with windsurfing with foils!
We have already seen this happen before when several windsurfing brands started investing in kitesurfing, as kitesurfing was growing while windsurfing was dying. All the windfoil mania has created a similar effect, attracting kite brands back to windsurf: Slingshot, Ketos, Zeeko, Horue, Alpinefoil…and many other kitefoil brands are now trying to adapt their knowledge about kitefoil to windfoiling.
Slingshot seems to be very serious about it. They even launched a Slingshot foil academy, to teach people how to foil. This shows that they are passionate about the sport.
4. Antoine Albeau, king of windsurf, is fully into windfoiling
Antoine has competed in most windsurf disciplines, and is 24 times windsurf world champion. Antoine started windfoiling more than 15 years ago already and today, we can often see him flying on a foil in his social media feed.
This has of course a strong influence on the average freerider, he is probably the best ambassador the discipline may have.
5. Starboard believes in the future of windsurf foiling:
In a interview for windsurfjournal.com, Tiesda you, head designer of Starboard, confirmed that it's difficult to say yet if windfoiling will be a niche within windsurfing or a key discipline, but he personally believes that about 40-50% of windsurfers will be on a foil within a few years.
6. Other sailing categories have already adopted foiling several years ago
Foiling moth, kitefoiling, and even America’s cup sailing boats are now on foils. The reason is clear: more speed with less drag in the water. Kitefoiling has been a huge success so far, and the number of kitefoilers continues to grow. Foiling for windsurf is therefore the next logical move for the growth of the sport as well.
Windsurf speed sailing may also experience a transition to foils in the future. Windsurf has now reached a speed of 50 knots, but this is in extreme wind conditions and completely flat water. It will be very difficult to do much better than the Antoine Albeau’s speed record of 53.27 knots.
To increase windsurf speed, something has to change radically. The introduction of hydrofoils could be the solution. These will probably be much smaller than today’s hydrofoils in order to avoid having too much drag. Let’s see what the future will bring when it comes to speed windfoiling!
A spokesperson ofStarboardconfirmed recently in a forum: “Our objective is to not only have a foil which makes you fly slowly over the water, we are trying to make it fast. We don’t know how long it will take, but it’s the plan”.
7. Windfoil price under €1000
Several brands like Neilpryde, Horue and alslo Mantafoilshave now introduced alloy windfoils with prices well under €1000. Those foils are of course slightly heavier and less performant that 100% carbon hydrofoils, but they offer very good sensations.
Not to mention, they are perfect for beginners who want to try foiling without investing €2000 in a carbon foil. The price of windsurf foils will hopefully decrease in the coming years, when the demand increases. Windsurf boards and sails dedicated to windfoiling have been developed by several brands.
While these boards and sails make windfoiling optimal, you can of course use a normal windsurf board and a classic rig as well. Most recent boards are “foil ready”, i.e. their fin boxes are reinforced deep tuttle boxes to cope the extreme forces that have been created by the hydrofoil.
A good windfoil board should have some volume (120 L) and be relatively large (about 70-80 cm).
REVOLUTION ON THE WAY
All in all, we can discuss this topic for a long time, whether or not windfoiling is going to revolutionize windsurfing, become a branch of the sport or disappear in the long run. Personally, I believe that foil windsurfing in general will become the norm in light winds, replacing formula windsurfing and that more and more people will become enthusiasts about the discipline, because who wouldn’t fly half a meter above the water?
The advantages are undeniable: double your days out on the water, stop sitting on the beach and wondering if there is enough wind for your 9m2 sail – instead, get out there and have fun! Impress everybody when they see you sailing full speed with only 10 knots of wind and a small sail!